1448 N Armstrong Avenue Fresno, CA 93727  |  (559) 327-8100

School History

Home  \  About  \  School History

How It All Began...

Our quiet country school is one of the last in the district to retain the rural nature of its early days, when Temperance Colony merged with Kutner Colony to create a school to meet the needs of both communities. 
 
Temperance Colony School School District 
 
Temperance Colony, located in the square bounded by today's Fowler, McKinley, Temperance and Belmont avenues, bore the moral stamp of its developer and one of early Fresno County's most prominent citizens, Moses J. Church (1819-1900), from the name to the character of its inhabitants.
 
The colony was born in late 1877 when Church, who founded the Fresno Canal and Irrigation Company, sold 20-acre parcels equipped with accessible irrigation. "Temperance" was selected as the name based on Church's insistence that colonists agree to follow other moral and character stipulations as dictated by Church, an Adventist opposed to the consumption of alcohol.  Colonists had to agree not to make or sell alcohol and abstain from having such beverages in their homes.  They were allowed to only plant grapes that would be used for the table or for raisins.
 
The Temperance Colony School District was organized June 12, 1878.  The Thompson Official Historical Atlas Map of Fresno 1891 placed the colony's first school at today's Olive and Armstrong avenues, where present-day Temperance-Kutner Elementary School now sits.
 
Temperance Colony School's average attendance in 1904 was 46 students and 47 the following year. By 1948, the district's last year of separate operation before joining with Kutner Colony School District, enrollment had almost doubled to 85 students.
 
The Clovis Union High School District was established June 27, 1899.  Temperance and the six other participating elementary school districts in the Clovis area -- Jefferson, Clovis, Garfield, Red Bank, Mississippi and Wolters -- were united to the new high school, but they retained their status as separate districts serving younger students.
 
A new brick building school with a Mission Revival facade was built in 1912 consisting of two rooms, a belfry and a tile roof.  The school replaced the original 1878 facility and was built in the same location.  In 1948, the building was condemned upon the discovery of cracks in the walls and was eventually demolished.  A temporary 20- by 40-foot school was erected to house students while plans for a permanent facility were underway.
 
Part of the solution to their student housing problem was solved when Temperance Colony and Kutner Colony formed a union July 1, 1949.  A new school located across the street from the original Temperance school was dedicated in April 1950. 
 
Kutner Colony School District
 
In the late 1880s, families of Danish, German and Swedish descent settled in the area around what is today Highland and McKinley avenues in Kutner Colony. 
 
Adolph Kutner (1836-1902) was a local land owner, grain merchant and partner in Kutner-Goldstein and Co.'s general merchandise stores located in Fresno and several other San Joaquin Valley communities. It was one of the largest mercantile businesses in California.  He also served as president of the Farmers' National Bank of Fresno and of the Kutner Colony Company.
 
 He left his home of Russian Poland at age 16 for the United States.  Upon his arrival in the U.S., he followed various careers and ultimately ended up in Fresno in 1874 where he partnered with Sam Goldstein, a previous acquaintance of Kutner's.  He amassed considerable wealth, but donated liberally, helped build Kutner Colony School and establish many churches, and gave to individuals in need.
 
In those days, immigrants like Kutner were banned by law from returning to Russia.  He longed to visit his homeland, and the U.S. government stepped in on his behalf so that the Russian law was suspended to allow him to return to his native Russia.  But Kutner, a noble man, would not take advantage of any exceptions afforded to him alone, and he died in August 1902 having never returned to his birthplace.
 
The children of the families of Kutner Colony first attended school in 1891 in a small, one-room wood cabin, but after a fire in the cabin, a new school facility was needed.  As relayed in John Allan Dow's History of Public School Organization and Administration in Fresno County, California, Kutner Colony student Hans H. Hansen recalled in a Fresno Bee article the fate of the wood cabin school:  "There were 40 students in the one room until the potbellied stove exploded.  Thomas E. Maxwell was the teacher who, along with the pupils, formed a lunch bucket brigade to put out the blaze."  Hansen graduated from Kutner School in 1899.  He later became a rancher near Kings Canyon Road and served as a trustee of Kutner Colony District from 1910 to 1913.
 
On February 29, 1892, Kutner Colony School District was established with residents funding a new schoolhouse through a $2,200 bond.  The school was situated on land donated by Kutner and was constructed by Fresno contractor John Jasper and residents of the colony.  The facility, which boasted double oak doors and a bell imported from an eastern factory, was widely praised.  The school opened in September 1892 to the 40 displaced students and their teacher Mr. Maxwell.
 
By 1912, enrollment had increased due to Kutner Colony's prosperity, propelling the community to build a new contemporary-style stucco facility.  Most notable were the two pronounced arches leading to two separate front doors.  Inside were two rooms and a basement.  The new school was placed on the same site as the 1892 school which was salvaged and relocated to the far side of the schoolyard where it was used for 40 years as a part-time classroom and community center, even serving as the local Red Cross headquarters, and a location for patriotic meetings and Liberty Bond drives during World War I.
 
Kutner Colony School District had originally aligned with Sanger High School in an agreement that Kutner graduates would attend Sanger beginning their ninth grade year.  However, on February 28, 1928, Kutner shifted to the Clovis Union High School District.
 
In 1948, county school administrators ordered that the Kutner Colony schoolhouse be abandoned due to damage.  During the 1948-49 school year, Kutner's last year of separate operation, nearly 70 students were enrolled with Roberta Winslow serving as the school's last principal.
 
With both Kutner Colony and Temperance Colony facing student housing problems, it was decided that a unification might be in order.  In August 1948, Kutner Colony residents voted 64 to three to unite with Temperance Colony, which became effective as of July 1, 1949.
 
By 1961, the 1912 Kutner Colony School was reported to have begun crumbling; today neither the 1892 nor the 1912 schoolhouses are in existence. 
Temperance-Kutner Union District
 
With both Temperance Colony and Kutner Colony schools wrought with structural damage, the two districts formed Temperance-Kutner Union District effective July 1, 1949.  The two schoolhouses continued to be used until a new school at 1448 North Armstrong Avenue in Fresno, near the Armstrong and Olive avenues site where the Temperance School was located, was built.  The new school was dedicated April 20, 1950.  The first principal was Phillip Tomb and enrollment averaged 210 students.
 
Located on seven acres, the school included 12 classrooms, offices, nurse's station and teachers' lounge.  Darden Architects, Inc. designed the school that was built by Lewis C. Nelson for $130,000.
 
The school bell that was used when the school was first built still hangs in the roof of T-K's main office building.
 
With growing enrollment, additional classrooms were constructed in 1953, 1956, 1962 and 1967, the same year a library was added.
 
Temperance-Kutner Elementary
 
Temperance-Kutner Union District joined six other individual school districts in the Clovis Union High School District to consolidate to form Clovis Unified School District effective July 1, 1960.  At that time, the school's name became Temperance-Kutner Elementary School, or "T-K", as it is familiarly known. 
 
Principals who have served at T-K include Lloyd Harline, Terry Allen, Pete Reyes, Cheryl Rogers, Ginger Thomas, Randy Hein and, currently, Kathy Blackburn.
 
Harline, who served as the school's principal from 1962 to 1980, recalled the strength of the families and the staff.  "I think my favorite memory was the wonderful people I worked with from the parents to the faculty," he said.  "When I started at T-K, the district had recently unified and there were hurt feelings but everyone was very supportive and we came out stronger in the end.  It was exciting to be a part of putting the district together then building it up.  Students were expected to achieve and goals were high.  It was a very exciting time."
 
The inclusion of competitive athletic teams for the fourth- through sixth-graders in the late 1960s was also a highlight for Harline.  "We hadn't had sports at the elementary level before," he said.  "Students had to learn how to win and learn how to lose.  The first thing we did was we had to get coaches so we drew from the staff.  When we would hire new teachers we would ask if they could coach.  Coaching required extra work, extra hours, but that was the type of dedication we had.  We pulled together to make sure our co-curricular programs worked.  It was a neat thing watching sports, academics, the fine arts and other activities take shape.  They gave students self-esteem and discipline."
 
Everyone got involved; Harline even played piano for the students in the choir.
 
Four-way Stop
 
What could have been a tragedy at T-K turned into a unique civics lesson for T-K students after a 1984 traffic accident.  One Saturday evening, a car, driving too fast through the intersection of Olive and Armstrong avenues, plowed into T-K's Room 1. 
 
"Parents were upset, asking what if this had happened during the day," said Allen who was serving as principal at the time.  "We ended up making a civics lesson for students out of the incident.  We went to local government and pleaded for a four-way stop to prevent any future accidents.  We had our stop signs within a week."
 
Changing demographics, meeting needs
 
When Ginger Thomas arrived as T-K's principal in 1994, the affluent school's boundaries had just changed.  "T-K's demographics changed significantly at that time," said Thomas.  "There was a high Hmong population.  Bilingual programs were needed and an English as a second language curriculum was introduced.  The dynamics were changing and there was tension."  Debate was ongoing as to whether separate bilingual classrooms should be created with all English learners together or whether balanced integrated classrooms should exist.
 
Thomas' priority was unifying T-K families, holding numerous multi-cultural events to promote camaraderie and eduction.
 
"We all pulled together and worked together," Thomas said.  "It's good to have diversity."
 
The Temperance-Kutner community was soon unified through its recognition as a National Drug Free School for the 1994-95 school year.  "The award really looks at programs and how the school is addressing needs of the community, and the different activities schools do to engage kids.  We highlighted our connection with local law enforcement; the sheriff was doing outreach with us.  We were working with the community in many ways.  Winning this award was a big boost for our community at a time when we really needed it," Thomas said.
 
With the changing needs of students, T-K has continued to provide programs that best serve its population.
 
T-K was the first school in the district to offer the English Learner Newcomers Academy for newly immigrated students from Thailand.  The program ran for four years.  It has also implemented Exceptional English Learner programs.
 
The Reading Recovery Program includes four trained specialists serving more than 120 needing reading assistance since the program began.  To further help with reading, the school's READ 180 Reading Intervention Lab was adapted from an intensive, nationwide reading intervention program that helps educators confront the problem of adolescent illiteracy and special needs reading on multiple fronts using technology, print and professional development.  The program directly addresses individual needs through differentiated instruction, adaptive and instructional software, high-interest literature, and direct instruction in reading, writing, and vocabulary skills.
 
In early 2007, Clovis Unified was awarded funding to operate after-school programs at seven elementary schools, including  
Clovis Unified School District: Be the best you can be in mind, body, and spirit
Buchanan Area Schools
Buchanan Alta Sierra Cole Century Dry Creek Garfield Tarpey Woods
Clovis High Area Schools
Clovis High Clark Cedar Wood Mickey Cox Gettysburg Jefferson Red Bank Sierra Vista Weldon Clovis Elementary
Clovis West Area Schools
Clovis West Kastner Ft. Washington Liberty Lincoln Maple Creek Nelson Pinedale Valley Oak
Clovis North Area Schools
Clovis North Bud Rank Copper Hills Fugman Mountain View River View
Clovis East Area Schools
Clovis East Boris Fancher Creek Freedom Miramonte Oraze Temperance Kutner Reagan Elementary Young Elementary
More
Schools
CART Gateway Clovis Online School Clovis Community Day School Clovis Adult Education Sierra Outdoor
View text-based website